Friday, November 27, 2015


Hey all,

How are your beautiful gardens growing? Any new gardeners? 

Many Indian cities are coming up with innovative ideas for terrace gardening. In cities like Bangalore and Delhi, many balcony gardens are springing up. There are more than 8 -10 organizations who help you start a terrace garden. Depending on the type of crops grown, at least these gardeners get 400 grams of vegetables per week. Many vouch for the fact that terrace gardening is a good way to start a day and is refreshing to engage in 10-15 minutes of gardening every day after a morning coffee.

We are trying to asses the number of terrace gardens and its effects on the micro climate of Pune city.  All Punekars, kindly comment/mail the following details of your terrace garden.

Type of garden
Type of building
Residential/ Commercial/Institutional/ Public/Semi public
Ornamental flowers/ Vegetable garden / Mixed garden
Area (approx in sqm/sqft)

Type of produce u get (predominant type)
Type of manure used
Organic/Chemical/ Manure from Compost /Manure from biogas plant
Motivation for the garden
Organic food/aesthetic view/ Waste disposal/Any Other (mention )

Civil Engineering department of CET, Trivandrum.
Not just residential buildings, colleges and public institutions have a huge potential for this as they have lots of open spaces in addition to terrace. If we all start growing plants in our balconies and terrace, how beautiful and green the cities will be! 

Do comment/email the details and photos of your beautiful gardens to or

Anu Kuncheria

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Compost produced in the zero waste campus project at one of the audited colleges in Mumbai

Last week, I briefly talked about the ICOR-Samuchit Green Audit Tool for Educational Institutes. You can read the post here.

Green Audit will help a college or a university department or a training institute to understand and introspect on its dependence as well as impact on local and global environment. More practically, it will show the institute ways and means by which it can make its processes more efficient and therefore also more economical. And last but not the least, green audit is now one of the requirements in the NAAC accreditation process of the University Grants Commission.
Our Green Audit Tool has two aspects which are normally not part of an environmental audit process. Today, I would like to elaborate a bit on this.

As we were designing the process specifically for educational institutes, we felt that in addition to the environment-friendliness of processes and systems, we should also examine and document the institute's activities focused on imparting knowledge and information about environmental issues. So far we have found that colleges do much more than the mandatory Environmental Science course. We also saw that different departments organise events, projects, activities, etc., in the framework of their courses but focused on the environment. When we present the documentation of the entire institute collectively, the common reaction is - wow, we had no idea so many environment focused activities have been going on in our institute! This in itself motivates and encourages people to collaborate more for more effective activities.

We also encourage college administrations to invite employees and students to share information about their own individual initiatives such as terrace gardening, adaptation of renewable energy devices at home, use of bicycle, greening of neighbourhood, or environment-focused hobbies, etc. Documenting these initiatives too as a part of the audit is an attempt to focus some limelight on these individuals, and also to see in what way the institute has/can influence lifestyle choices of individuals connected with it.

For more information, please contact: Deepika Singh, ICOR on or write to me on 

Priyadarshini Karve
Samuchit Enviro Tech

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Hello all,

Today lets discuss about a fresh topic- FOOD!  We are all exposed to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the market. We have apples from Kashmir and Himachal, mangoes from Andra (banganapally, neelam) and Karnataka (alphonso) ,litchis from Bihar and so on. We also have Washington apples, New Zealand kiwis and China Pears in our markets. Fruit imports are growing at a rate of more than 25% each year.  These foods travel hundreds of kilometers requiring significant energy consumption for handling, storage and transportation with a good amount spoiling during the course of travel.  It is scientifically proven that fruits and vegetables start losing vitamins and nutrients from the minute they are picked, so long distance travel from other states leads to less healthy and nutrient vegetables and fruits.

We have always known the advantages and importance of Local Food Production. Locally grown fruits and vegetables generally end up in our hands at their peak of flavor because they are picked ‘in-season’. The only way to get it any fresher is to grow it yourself! One can notice the difference in the just-picked, mouthwatering taste of the fruits and veggies from local farms. Not just the taste, consuming local food has lot of other advantages.
  • By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their most freshest, most abundant, and least expensive.
  • Supporting local food systems generally means less energy, emissions and food kilometers associated with our food.
  • When you shop locally, it benefits the local farmers the most and help them sustain their livelihood.

These days, organic food is gaining importance with super markets and online food apps having separate organic food sections. People are conscious of what they eat. The negative effects of pesticides are increasingly gaining attention and organic food is  bought at high prices. Also, these organic items have reduced shelf life and hence should be consumed at source.

In this context, kitchen/terrace gardens have gained prominence in urban households. I  was always fascinated with the idea of growing our own food  at home. Growing up in Kerala where all typical house has a kitchen garden with curry leaves, spinach, ginger , mango trees, coconut trees, plantains etc, it was lovely to see you grow your own vegetables and have it. As cities grew and there was a shift from independent houses to flat system, these traditions started to wane. But  high pesticide uses in farming should alert us to go back to concept of terrace and balcony  gardens. It has lots of advantages.
  •  Organic food availability.
  • Practical learning for children.
  • Less energy use ( as compared to using food from far places).
  •  Green terrace – a positive environment.
  • Enhances micro climate by increasing oxygen production.
In smart cities, terrace/balcony gardens should source a portion of total food supplies of all citizens.

Planning is  important  in terrace gardens. Depending on the number of people in the household and the space available on the terrace and climatic conditions of that place, one can plan the terrace garden and achieve good yields.

I request all terrace/balcony gardeners to share information on their terrace/balcony gardens so that we can adopt your good practices in other parts of Pune as well.  


My small balcony kitchen garden - Aundh, Pune

*Check organic markets in Ludhiana here.

*There are organisations like iKheti (Mumbai), Edible routes (Delhi), Squarefoot farmers(Bangalore) who help in rooftop farming and related services.

Anu Kuncheria

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

MUSINGS FROM PRIYADARSHINI KARVE: Important for colleges and universities!

Are you working in a college or university? Is your academic institution scheduled for NAAC accreditation any time soon? Are you aware that UGC has now added a requirement of a green audit in the accreditation process? Read on to find out more! 

A couple of years ago, I was approached by Deepika Singh of Institute for Community Organisation Research (ICOR), a Mumbai based NGO, with an interesting idea - to develop a process for environmental audit of educational campuses. 

I had been exploring issues of urban sustainability for a few years, and had been doing workshops on carbon footprinting for urban Indians. I felt that this was a logical next step. The Samuchit Carbon Footprint Calculator helps urban Indian individuals and families measure their personal contribution to climate change. A green audit process would help an organisation measure its own impact on the local and global environment. If the organisation is an educational institute, it also helps spread the concept of environmental sustainability to young generation, which is a big bonus. I was very happy to collaborate with ICOR on this idea, and so emerged the ICOR-Samuchit Green Audit Tool for Educational Institutes. 

At that time we had no idea how we were going to 'sell' the concept to educational institutes, but it so happened that ICOR was approached by a college with just this requirement! That is when we first discovered that UGC was asking about environmental audit in its new NAAC accreditation questionnaires! 
Planning Meeting for Green Audit with the faculty members at a college in Mumbai

We have so far completed two audits, and are in the middle of a third one. A couple of more assignments are in the pipeline. We are realising that at least in Maharashtra nobody is offering to do environmental audits within the budget that undergraduate colleges (or any other non-profit campuses) can afford. 

The other advantage of our process is that since we had focused specifically on educational institutes, our process is tailored to the specific activities and issues of an academic campus. The Tool is also sensitive to challenges of information and data availability, particularly in view of resources being shared between different institutes on the same campus. 

Furthermore, we have developed a process that is participatory - a group of teachers and students works with us in data collection and analysis, and therefore it is also a huge experiential learning opportunity for the college community. 

For more information, please contact: Deepika Singh, ICOR on or write to me on 

Priyadarshini Karve
Samuchit Enviro Tech

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

DO I OWN THE RIVER? - A Reflection..

All the major civilizations around the globe grew along the banks of rivers.. They were the lifelines for drinking water, agriculture, religious activities and many more. Pune too originated as a tiny agricultural settlement along Mutha river called as Punyak and gradually expanded over the years to become the present Pune city. Water was celebrated; involved in social, religious, cultural and day today activities. But this everyday interaction lost as time passed and slowly began converting to backyard drains. What ever interaction left is limited to Waste disposal and during Ganesh festival for idol immersion.

Everyone knows the reasons for pollution; projects are lined up; studies being conducted; but still no change in the water quality. With a water quality index (WQI) of 28, its heavily polluted.

The JICA funded Mulla - Mutha Pollution abatement project with a total cost pf Rs 990 crores is in pipeline to revive these rivers. Its a huge relief as it aims to meet the core pollution causes by cleaning the river and setting up sewerage system for the city. But this is not sufficient to ensure a sustained clean river. The continuous maintenance is a huge task. This can be ensured only by a sense of ownership in the residents. A simple thought of ' I Own the River' can work miracles. It can help the rivers to become Jeevith Nadi..

This sense of ownership can be brought by making rivers a part of our day to day life..The river sides can be converted to centers of public activities and recreational open spaces. Awareness creation via workshops, river walks, student camps, nature trails should be integral part of municipal budgets. A river day can be declared and programmes organised for cleaning and maintaining..

Once we start loving our river again, there is no turning back!!

Anu Kuncheria


    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


** This blog entry is not about Diwali or Diwali greetings! I am sure you have got more than your share of the same! Through this blog, I am inviting all of you to share your thoughts and suggestions on a problem that I am facing... and I am sure several of you have faced in various contexts! **

A lot of innovative ideas get bogged down into the mire of 'user acceptance', and the only apparent reason seems to be the 'Pain of Change'. In almost all our products we encounter this problem, and try to find our way out of it. 

The pain of change is not just a user's response to the new technology, it also comes from deep within his/her own psyche, and is rooted in the belief system. For example, when my father and his colleagues were trying to promote farming of bamboo, they just could not break the belief held by farmers that it is inauspicious to cultivate bamboo in one's farm because it is used for carrying dead bodies to their last rites in Hindu practices. Without realising this, my father and his colleagues kept arguing that as long as people continue to die, the market for bamboo cannot die! 

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, rural women just refusing to use an appliance in spite of being convinced of its benefits has always been a baffling phenomenon. I have now come to realise that to some extent this is related to the bigger problem of gender empowerment. Here I would like to share an interesting story, that was once told to me by a social worker. One young activist went into a village, and perceived that the women of the village had to undertake a trek of some 2 km to get to a wooded patch to take care of their 'daily business' in relative privacy. For their dignity and in the interest of hygiene he got some donations and build a block of public toilets for women. A few months later he realised that the women were not using the toilets much. When he started talking to the women what finally emerged astounded him. The couple of hours in the morning, when all the able bodied women in the village got together, walked to their 'natural toilet', and came back, was the only time they got to spend with their friends, chatting and gossiping, without the pressure of work, kids, and elders watching their every move. They were not willing to give up on that socialising! So the real problem faced by the women ran much deeper than just access to proper toilets - it was a problem of their status in the family and society.

Recently, I met a person who runs a charitable institution and he was complaining that with the help of donations he has tried to improve the institutional kitchen - has put in solar water heater, and also an LPG fuelled boiler to generate steam for cooking - but the semi-literate women who operate the kitchen are unwilling to use these gadgets and prefer their own traditional wood fired chulhas. Apparently the women keep saying that all the new gadgets are too "high-tech" for them to use.

Samuchit ELFD Sampada Smokeless Stove - Institutional Cooking model
We cooked about 7 kg rice in 30 min on the ELFD Sampada - Institutional Cooking Model

Is this really a problem of their genuinely not understanding the operation, or is it because right from the childhood it has been impressed on the women that anything 'modern' and 'high tech' will be beyond their capacity to handle? Since I am now trying to promote a very innovative cooking energy device in the Samuchit ELFD Sampada Smokeless Stove, I need to crack this 'pain of change' issue, particularly in the context of institutional cooking! We too have typically found the male cooks more open to trying out the new 'gadget' compared to women, particularly in rural institutions. Any suggestions on tackling this issue?

Priyadarshini Karve
Samuchit Enviro Tech

    Samuchit Enviro Tech. 

Friday, November 6, 2015


Hola!   This is my first writing. I am quite new to Pune, this is my 5th month here and I am already in love with the city…During my stay in Delhi, I never thought I would like another city as much as Delhi ; But Pune excites me with its liveliness, colorfulness at the same time the calmness! The lively streets, active urban spaces, friendly people, street food, the cool mornings all makes the city a heaven. The city’s rich heritage and unique blue – green network gives it a special charm.

After the initial honeymoon period, as the hole in my pocket began to grow, I shifted from Uber to city buses and to my utter disappointment I realized bus service in Pune is shockingly bad! (No wonder Pune has the biggest number of 2 wheelers and arrogant auto drivers!) Commuters have to wait minimum 20-30 min for bus and when it arrives, so full that many have to stand on the steps and travel. Is the city only for private vehicle owners or for Uber and Ola users? How do daily workers, low and middle income commuters travel?  Also are the footpaths meant for motorcyclists in Pune? Even if people are walking on the footpaths, they come behind and honk as if we are on wrong side. It’s not just civilians, I have seen policemen in their uniform ride on the footpaths.

Pune’s wonderful microclimate is attributed to the 3 surrounding hills. Due to rampant encroachment of these hills and disruption of natural processes, city is becoming hotter not to forget the climate change impacts. When I came in June, it was relatively cold in the morning and I feared Oct- Nov would be chiller. But what we experienced in Sept- Oct was soaring temperatures.  What Punekars never imagined was a water shortage which is reality now. Once abundant, now redundant  Mula – Mutha river is a shame to Punekars.

Simultaneously I hear the SMART – Pune campaign. The buzz around ‘SMART’ is so much that I wonder am I ‘STUPID’ not to understand what everyone else has easily understood! What is SMART?  Is this our Smart future?

Unless otherwise there is a Comprehensive Smart Villages plan along with Smart Cities plan, the solution is unsustainable. A technology driven city without equity ensures an unlivable city!

Coincidentally, I got this wonderful opportunity to work with Dr Priya Maam on Sustainable Smart Pune Study Project focusing on low carbon and equity.  We are evolving a study on how an equitable city should be? What are the limits to growth? How much is enough?

We are exploring new concepts and is open to suggestions, comments, ideas n more….

Anu Kuncheria

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


In India, the festival season during which people generally give gifts to family, friends, associates, etc., starts with Dashera - Diwali and ends with Christmas - New Year celebrations. Please consider gifting sustainable products or ideas, and start a conversation around sustainability during this season. 

We have been promoting a number of products, which make ideal gifts for everyone. Solar lamps have become a popular gift article over the last couple of years. 

DLight S2 LampDLight S20

However, most people tend to think of solar lights as 'emergency lights' or like a torch to take on a trip or something. A solar lamp will rate as a 'sustainable' appliance if it becomes the primary source of light in the house. 

A fully charged solar lantern or a table lamp, should be the first choice for illumination when dusk gathers. Unless we are reading/writing/or doing some focused work requiring bright light, we really need lighting in the house at night for general illumination. In recent years, we have unnecessarily got ourselves used to very bright lighting in our houses. Even when we want to focus on some work in our hands, it is only the work area (e.g., the page of the book that we are reading) that needs to be lit brightly, not the entire room! 

It may feel a bit gloomy to start with, but soon you will get used to the quiet and low lighting of the LED solar lamps, and then the bright fluorescent light is what will seem harsh and stressful to the eyes. 

So, this festive season, gift yourself and your friends and family, a sustainable solar lamp, and a sustainable lighting habit to go with it.  

For solar lamps, and other interesting sustainable gifting ideas, do check our website

Priyadarshini Karve
Samuchit Enviro Tech

    Samuchit Enviro Tech.